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Chamber hopes new Christmas season event will draw a crowd

Tis the Season to replace Moonlight Madness in Athabasca
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There will be an expanded kick off to Christmas, but no fireworks this year as the Athabasca District Chamber of Commerce plans a new Tis the Season campaign to replace Moonlight Madness.

ATHABASCA — Farewell to fireworks, welcome warming stations. 

The Athabasca District Chamber of Commerce (ADCC) is planning to change the format of the long-running and popular Moonlight Madness with a rebrand and expanded activities, Chamber director Rick Baksza told Town of Athabasca council at their Sept. 6 meeting. 

“Now that COVID has gone through, and things have changed a little bit, we felt we needed a little bit of a refresh,” Baksza said. 

The point of Moonlight Madness was to encourage people to shop locally ahead of the Christmas rush and was one night of sales, fireworks, and a parade, but the new 'Tis the Season' format will take place over three weekends. 

“(When) I was marshaling for the (Canada Day) parade some of the guys in the Legion were there, and they're like, ‘We don’t have very many people left in our Legion and we don't have the group anymore. It's harder and harder to find people that are willing to walk,’” he said. “And that got me thinking that there's a ton of not-for-profits in this town and most of us don't know where they are, and we don't know what they do. So, I want to provide a platform for them.” 

So, at the Christmas Country Market Nov. 5-6, non-profits will have an opportunity to have a free table so they can promote themselves and sign-up new members or volunteers. 

"Volunteers and not-for-profits has always been a challenge and it seems to be just getting harder than easier,” said Baksza. 

Nov. 19 will be a light up of the town with the trees along the riverfront, businesses, and residential decorating contests. 

“We also want to have some activities down at the park like maple candy making, hot chocolate, letters to Santa, face painting, (and) firepits,” he said. "Just have a place for people to go while they're downtown, creating shopping opportunities.” 

Then, the Christmas parade will be Dec. 2 but there will be no fireworks display. 

“We made a decision to not do fireworks. We just felt that there was enough going on,” said Baksza. “We wanted to focus the funds on the businesses and not on the fireworks.”

Coun. Dave Pacholok made a motion for administration to work with the ADCC on the 'Tis the Season' campaign and public works will check if new lights need to be added to the trees at Riverfront Park, plus light up the stage. 

Heather Stocking

About the Author: Heather Stocking

Heather Stocking a reporter at the Athabasca Advocate, a weekly paper in Northern Alberta. Heather covers all aspects of the news in and around Athabasca and Boyle as well as other small communities.
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